The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Feds Pick 7 Projects to Speed Up Transmission Line Buildout

Talks about the need to modernize the transmission grid have swirled around in the renewable energy world for a while now, but big challenges in areas such as permitting remain for accomplishing that goal. The federal government says it wants to help, and it announced seven pilot projects on Wednesday to show how it could speed up the regulatory processes.

Nine federal agencies formed the Rapid Response Team for Transmission to oversee the seven pilot projects, which the team chose to show how proposals in various stages of permitting processes will move faster than before. But federal officials on the team declined to quantify just how fast that would be. A transmission project could take anywhere from five to 15 years to secure all the permits, said Lauren Azar, senior advisor to the Energy Secretary Steven Chu, during a conference call on Wednesday. Don’t count on an extraordinary cut to the amount of time it will take given the complexity of transmission projects and the potential need to secure not just federal but state permits.

“We need a better grid and we need that to build a better economy,” Azar said. “Transforming our grid won’t happen overnight. But we do need to take a long term view and begin that transformation today.”

More and better transmission lines are considered necessary for ferrying the growing amount of solar, wind and geothermal electricity in the country. Utilities are investing in these projects not only to serve their own territories but also to export renewable energy to nearby states that have clean power mandates. The U.S. Department of Energy approved a $343 million loan guarantee earlier this year to build a 235-mile, 500-kilovolt line from northern to southern Nevada. NV Energy, one of the project developers, is also working on a larger transmission project to bring wind and solar power from Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada to California, where the utilities are under pressure to get 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The effort to expedite transmission projects also has to do with creating jobs. Job creation is a thorny challenge for the Obama administration and Congress and is already taking center stage in election politics.

“This is not just about jobs specifically connected to transmission lines. It also sends a strong message to the entire industry and give them the confidence to increase generation capacities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Plans to work together to upgrade and build more transmission lines began two years ago, when the nine federal agencies signed a memorandum of understanding to officially kickstart the initiative. After meeting with utilities and others in the power industry, the response team picked the seven projects. The agencies involved include the departments of energy, interior, agriculture, commerce and defense, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Regulatory Commission.

The federal response team will work on three main areas: coordinate regulatory reviewing and permitting steps between federal and state agencies, take a “uniform and consistent approach” in working with American Indian tribal governments, and resolve disputes among agencies quickly. You can track the progress of the seven pilot projects by clicking here.

The agriculture department, for one, already has made administrative changes to open up the national forests for transmission development, Vilsack said.

If all goes well, transmission lines will be built across 12 states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Wisconsin. The first project to start construction will likely take place in the fall of 2012, said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Among the seven pilot projects, the Susquehanna-to-Roseland line is among the farthest along the permitting process, Azar said. The project, proposed by PPL and Public Service Electric and Gas Co., will build 145 miles of 500-kilovolt line from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and several substations. The project could be built and begin operation in the spring of 2015.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now


Solar water heating

California Regulators Propose Expansion of Eligibility Requirements for Solar Water Heating Program

Jennifer Delony The California Public Utilities Commission has proposed expanding the eligibility requirements for customers seeking ...

Florida Supreme Court Takes Up Solar Question

Wayne Barber Because Florida remains one of only four states where current laws expressly deny citizens and businesses the freedom...
solar net metering

Lithuanian Net Metering Hits Snag from Outset

Linas Jegelevicius The much anticipated net metering in Lithuania has hit a major snag from the very start – the introduced network oper...
Solar energy

Colorado PUC Orders No Changes to Solar Net Metering

Vince Font In what is being lauded as a “fair outcome” for consumers, utilities and the solar industry alike, the Colorado Publi...


Canadian Solar Wins Five Solar Power Projects Totaling 185 MW in Brazil

These power projects were won under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the B...

$100 Off of 5-day Advanced PV Project Experience. Download a Topic Schedule.

Assemble, ground, energize, and commission a complete grid-tied SolarEdge system from s...

Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...

National Thought Leaders to Present on Today's Clean Energy Issues & Trends During IREC's 3iForum at Solar Power International

"An encore to the standing-room-only sessions the past two years, IREC again brings som...


Washington, DC Bridges the Solar Gap

The District of Columbia has enjoyed 15 years of strong economic growth. But prosperity is spread unevenly across the...

Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade school science class. Now it’s time to ref...

Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program from


Ucilia Wang is a California-based freelance journalist who writes about renewable energy. She previously was the associate editor at Greentech Media and a staff writer covering the semiconductor industry at Red Herring. In addition to Renewable En...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Doing Business in Europe – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...


Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade sch...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal...

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program f...

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospe...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now